Police Chiefs to Obama: We Need Immigration Help

Thursday, 02 Jul 2009 08:39 AM

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MIAMI – US police chiefs on Wednesday called on President Barack Obama to pass comprehensive immigration reform as a crucial move to improve security.

Police leaders convening in Miami, Florida urged the White House to pass immigration reform and pressed for their voices to be heard in the debate.

"It is crucial that the law enforcement perspective be considered in any debate on immigration," said Miami police chief John Timoney.

"Immigrant victims and witnesses of violent crimes will not come forward if they fear their local police will deport them.

"This affects everyone as it hampers law enforcement efforts to thwart criminal activity in our neighborhoods," he said.

In late June Obama opened the debate on immigration reform, saying he wants to "recognize and legalize" undocumented immigrants in the United States.

He announced that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would join congressional leaders to form a working group on immigration reform which would work on proposals to "secure our borders" and offer the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States a chance to obtain legal status.

Art Acevedo, the police chief of Austin, Texas, and the head of the National Latino Peace Officers Association said reforming the system would lead to better police enforcement.

"One of the greatest challenges facing American law enforcement is a community of 12 million potential victims and witnesses of crime who live in the shadows of fear and are hesitant to cooperate with law enforcement," he said.

"Comprehensive immigration reform will lead to enhanced safety and security for everyone."

© 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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